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Johnson v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

May 27, 2016

REGINARD JOHNSON PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Reginard Johnson (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.

         The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF No. 5.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his SSI application on September 20, 2012. (Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to shoulder and ankle problems. (Tr. 168). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 15, 2012. (Tr. 12). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 60-71).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 27-59). This hearing was held on June 9, 2014 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Shannon Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dianne Smith testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was fifty-three (53) years old, which is defined as a “person closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(d). (Tr. 32). As for his education level, Plaintiff testified he had received his high diploma. Id.

         On August 26, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s application for SSI. (Tr. 9-23). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since September 20, 2012, his application date. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: left rotator cuff tear/impingement syndrome and lumbar degenerative disk disease. (Tr. 14-16, Finding 2). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff’s impairment did not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 16-17, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 17-21, Finding 4). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and found his claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c) except the claimant is limited to standing and/or walking for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant is also limited to work where there is no frequent overhead reaching with the left upper extremity.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff had no PRW. (Tr. 21-22, Finding 5). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 22-23, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding that issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following two occupations: (1) laundry worker (medium, unskilled) with 175, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (2) hand packager (medium, unskilled) with 450, 000 such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from his alleged onset date through the date of the ALJ’s decision or through August 26, 2014. (Tr. 23, Finding 10).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 8). On August 18, 2015, the Appeals Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-4). On September 16, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 17, 2015. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine whether the Commissioner’s findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010); Ramirez v. Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner’s decision. See Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is substantial evidence in the record that supports the Commissioner’s decision, the Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court would have decided the case differently. See Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after reviewing the ...


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